I want to share with you my top trick for insane focus and incredible results.
This is a very simple motivational technique, yet so effective. If you’re a visual Penelope like me, I bet it will work for you, too.
I normally use this technique to keep myself going on a solid workout plan, but it can be used for anything you’re trying to make a habit of.
- Are you writing a book or trying to stick to a daily blog schedule?
- Are you trying to stick to a daily budget? Or perhaps a calorie goal?
- Are you attempting to stop smoking, cut out soda, or nix another bad daily habit?
- Are you trying to add a good daily habit?
Then you MUST try this trick — The Visual Calendar.
As I was reading Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, I was pleasantly surprised to find this very technique mentioned there as well. Gretchen refers to it as “the chain” and describes a scenario for using it:
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld advised aspiring comedian Brad Isaac that, because daily writing was the key to writing better jokes, Isaac should buy a calendar with a box for every day of the year, and every day, after writing, cross off the day with a big red X. ‘After a few days you’ll have a chain,’ Seinfeld explained. ‘You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.
Bingo. And behold my version (in this case, the Beast Mode calendar, since I’m sticking to a workout plan):
I created this calendar in Adobe Illustrator and printed it out at Kinko’s on 18” x 24” inch thick paper, though it can be created in a variety of word-processing or design programs.
It has a very specific start and end date, as breaking big goals into measurable chunks is the easiest way to get started, in my opinion.
I post this calendar in a spot that I see multiple times a day (it’s hanging on the wall in my home office, just a glance away from my computer).
Now here’s the trick. Every day that you complete your desired action (in my case, working out), cross off that day with a fat red X. That action is so satisfying to us Penelopes, as it’s akin to checking something off your to-do list.
The red X doesn’t signify that that particular date has passed; it signifies that you completed your goal on that date. If you don’t complete your daily goal, you leave that day blank—effectively breaking the chain.
Imagine how motivating it becomes as your calendar fills up with red X’s. At a glance, you can see your progress. You’ll get to the point where you simply cannot miss a day. Your Penelope Perfectionism will really struggle with not getting that visual cue down on your calendar. (Check out how my red X’s become bigger and bolder as each day passes. No coincidence there. I’ve hit my stride and am killing those days.)
That’s the trick! Would you like to give it a try? Then you’re in luck: Download this free September–December printable, and make the rest of 2016 your bitch.
Do you have any other tricks for staying motivated? Let us know in the comments.